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Adulting Career Student Life Transition

Why LinkedIn is Essential for College Students

May 16, 2022

LinkedIn is growing in popularity among Gen Z, and it’s setting off a wave of envy and fear of missing out for some college students who worry they’re behind—even if they aren’t yet in the workforce.

  • The key to using LinkedIn effectively is to create a detailed and engaging profile.
  • Learn and use basic etiquette when sending messages and making connections.
  • Don’t neglect LinkedIn; update your status regularly and explore job postings.

Stop worrying about work experience and connections. As you get more experience with internships and a job after college, those sections will naturally fill themselves out. For now, follow these 8 steps to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is a more professional platform than any other social media, so it’s important to keep that in mind when using it. But you can still be personal! When sending messages to alumni or to people who work at companies you’re interested in, take the time to write a personal note—and be specific about your reason for writing. The same goes for commenting on a post. If you don’t know what to say, ask a question.

Creating your Profile

When creating your profile, come as close to 100% complete as possible. It will act as your digital “get to know me,” as well as a resume for future employers and connections as you move into the workforce.

Before you get started, there is one more to keep in mind: Don’t try to be funny. Social media is known for being witty and cunning; with friends, that’s fine, but not on LinkedIn. Understanding humor online is challenging, primarily when written. LinkedIn is not the space for funny memes but for sharing different professional goals, accomplishments, and aspirations.

Be sure to include accurate contact information, so employers and other connections can get in contact with you outside of the platform. 20-somethings are used to contacting people through direct messages, but employers may not be. Add your email or phone number as an alternative form of communication, so you don’t rely on LinkedIn’s internal messages.

1. Pick the Right Photo

Unlike other social platforms, your profile headshot on LinkedIn needs to meet some additional criteria. It’s the first thing an employer sees, so you want to make a good impression. Choose a picture that is recent, professional, and of high quality. It should be a clear photo of yourself and not a cropped image with other people.

If you don’t have a headshot, ask a friend to take a picture of you against a solid colored wall or with some nice scenery that isn’t too busy. Avoid using a selfie or a photo that’s heavily filtered and edited.

2. Write a Keyword-Rich Headline and Summery

Like many things online, the words you select matter. When it comes to your profile, your content is indexed in the platform’s search history, along with other search engines like Google, if your profile is public. Including keywords about the skills and interests desired by employers in your field will increase your chances of appearing in recruitment searches.

For your headline, make it relevant, meaningful, and industry-specific. It will serve as the first glance into what interests you.

When writing your summary, briefly explain your history and goals: Who you are, what you would like to do, who you aim to help, and how you plan on achieving it. Use bullet points for emphasis and to make your profile easy to skim.

Also, the more complete your profile, the more places to include keywords!

3. Add the Details

Experiences

Going in reverse chronological order, start with your most recent job and list all relevant jobs you’ve had over the years, including any internships. Fill out as much as you can, even if the field is not required. Be sure to write the description in the first person.

Education

Be sure to include any schools you’ve attended and graduated from, along with degrees and fields of study. It’s okay if you haven’t finished school yet; just be sure to put your anticipated graduation date!

Licenses and Certifications

Another way to set yourself apart from other candidates is with licenses and certifications. Some positions require them, so it is helpful for employers to know that you meet their requirements.

Volunteer Experiences

Volunteering and other extracurriculars are a fantastic way to display your transferable skills. They often get overlooked or left off of resumes, deemed unimportant and irrelevant, but offer a deeper insight into who you are and what you value to an employer.

4. Showcase your Strengths

Choose at least five skills to highlight on your profile. This is an important step you shouldn’t skip. Your connections on LinkedIn can endorse the skills you have listed on your profile, signifying to future employers that not only can you talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Have a mix of different skills on your profile as well. Soft skills like time management and communication are increasingly important to employers, so students should focus on those.

If you are having a hard time coming up with appropriate skills, take a look at job descriptions and include sought-after skills you see —only if they actually apply, of course.

5. Include Recommendations

Just like having a list of references with your resume, having recommendations on your profile shows that you can perform the tasks and roles that you claim. When looking for your first role out of college, these are important to help set you apart. Start by asking professors, advisors, and work or internship supervisors to leave a recommendation.

6. Have a Portfolio

Navigating a digital world can be challenging in many ways, but showcasing your work isn’t one of them. What better way to sell your skills than to show employers exactly what you can produce? Use the “media” option available in each profile category to upload past projects, videos, and other examples of your work.

7. Final Touches

After you have completed your profile, you can fill out a few other categories that aren’t necessary, but they give a deeper insight into your qualifications and help employers find you more easily.

Courses – List important classes taken while in school to give more context to your educational background.

Languages – Being able to speak more than one language is valuable and should be showcased on your profile.

Organizations – List any important membership organizations you were a part of in college.

Awards – Share the honors or awards you may have received while studying or working while attending college.

Interests – Join LinkedIn groups related to your career, follow an alumni group, or connect to specific companies you are interested in.

8. Customize your LinkedIn profile URL.

There are a lot of people on LinkedIn, so taking the extra step to help you stand out can make all the difference. Customizing your URL will help drive the traffic you are looking for to your profile and help you appear in external searches. Make it something easy such as your first and last name, or first initial and last name.

  • Start networking. Networking doesn’t mean reaching out cold to strangers. Start building your LinkedIn network by uploading your online address book from your email account.
  • Connect with alumni. Find your school’s page and click the “See alumni” button.
  • Customize your connection requests. Tailor each request instead of using the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. Remind the contact you are reaching out to where you met, or explain why you want to connect. They’ll be more likely to respond.

Now that you have completed your profile ask a parent or other trusted adult to proofread and provide other feedback before it goes live. The good news is, as you continue to learn, grow, and gain experience, your LinkedIn Profile will grow with you!

Happy linking!

Health Student Life

Strategies for Prioritizing Mental Health in College

May 16, 2022
five young students sitting together outside

College is a wonderful time in your life. You meet new people, grow beyond your existing ideas, and are constantly working towards the goal of self-improvement. 

But, there’s no doubt that college is stressful, too. Socializing, learning, and developing a career is hard, and accumulating debt can feel overwhelming. 

Combine these stressors with the past few years’ events, and you are sure to feel a little frazzled. 

But, in the long run, college is undoubtedly worth it. You make friendships that last a lifetime and add serious value to your career potential. You’ll also learn to appreciate life in new and novel ways, as that elective in literature might just spark a love of reading and critical thinking. 

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Health Student Life

How to Reduce and Maintain Low Stress Levels in College

May 11, 2022

Can you recall a time you’ve felt pressure to perform to high standards? The stress in high school is different from what comes in college. With the stakes higher, academic stress can sneak up and create many issues for students transitioning into college.

What is Academic Stress?

It’s inevitable that students in college will be stressed, and for many different reasons. Maybe your scholarship requires you to have specific grades to remain eligible, or you’re a first-gen college student, and you feel pressure from your family to do well. The cost of tuition alone can be a financial burden on college families, and maybe yours is also feeling the strain.

This can bring anxiety and thoughts that higher education isn’t worth it or that the responsibility will be too much. We want you to know that feeling this way isn’t unusual and is even shared among many students. But don’t worry, you are not alone in this. We are here to help!

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Health Student Life

Understanding Mental Health for College Students

May 10, 2022
A college student with mental health struggles alone.

What is Mental Health, and Why is it Important to Understand?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time for us to discuss and remember that taking care of our mental well-being is essential. Those living with mental health conditions deserve understanding, respect and compassion, and most importantly, tools for coping, healing, and fulfillment.

What is Mental Health?

According to the CDC, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are different. Mental illnesses are diagnosed conditions that affect thoughts and behaviors. Though anyone can have moments of poor mental health, not everyone has a mental illness. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of poor physical, mental, and social well-being.

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Adulting Student Life

Fact or Fiction: The Truth About College Student Insurance

May 4, 2022
Students working on laptops laughing

By now, most of us know what insurance is, although maybe not entirely sure how it works or what makes a good policy. When it comes to the necessity of insurance, there is often some debate on what is covered, what’s a reasonable price, and if it is really something that people should invest in. College is one of the most expensive and risky investments a family can make. Still, many people may feel like insurance is unnecessary or unaware of what is included in a student renters and tuition insurance plan.

We break down all the misconceptions and myths surrounding college student insurance.

Fact or Fiction – 8 Misconceptions About the Value of Insurance for College Students

1. College students can’t afford renters or tuition insurance.

Fiction: Renters and tuition insurance are pretty affordable. In fact, a monthly renters policy with GradGuard costs as little as a Chipotle burrito meal! Students can also get coverage for as little as 1-2% of their overall tuition expense for tuition insurance, including room and board and academic fees.

2. My landlord will likely not replace my things if they’re stolen or damaged.

Fact: Presumably, your landlord has insurance that covers the building, but not what’s inside. So, if your backpack is stolen or your laptop is destroyed, you will be the one to replace it. Having a renters policy is essential in giving you peace of mind that your things will be protected if something happens.

Let’s take it one step further: GradGuard’s Renters Insurance follows you wherever you go. If your bike is stolen while running an errand or if your suitcase is taken while studying abroad, your renters policy has you covered.

3. My school has a refund policy, so I don’t need to pay for tuition insurance if I have to withdraw.

Fiction: Yes, your college or university indeed has a refund policy that is often only good for the first few weeks of classes. Beyond that, nearly all institutions don’t provide refunds if you were to completely withdraw, even for a medical condition such as anxiety, depression, or Covid-19.  Tuition insurance can help protect you so you don’t need to rely on this if you need to withdraw for a medical emergency.

4. My stuff doesn’t cost that much.

Fiction: Find out just how much your stuff is worth — and how renters insurance can cover it all. When you sit down to think about all the things needed to attend college, it can add up – and fast! If the unexpected were to happen, do you have the budget to replace everything you own? Renters insurance can help you get your money back so you don’t have to stress about how you would replace a stolen or damaged laptop or bike.

5. Renters insurance covers more than just my personal belongings.

Fact: The fantastic thing about a renters policy is its wide range of coverage! Not only is your stuff covered in your residence, on campus, traveling to and from school, and studying abroad, GradGuard’s renters insurance includes liability coverage and loss of use protection.

Liability and medical coverage – If you unintentionally damage your place of residence, you may be held responsible for damage to your apartment building or injuries to guests. Liability coverage may help you pay for any medical fees, property damage, or court costs in this situation.

Loss of use protection – This is important to help cover the costs of food and hotel rooms if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril like a fire in your residence hall.

GradGuard’s Renters Insurance provides these exclusive student endorsements, including a low $100 deductible and no credit scoring.

6. I am young and healthy, so nothing will happen to me.

Fiction: There is a reason the unexpected is, well, unexpected – you can’t and won’t see it coming. Even though many college students are in good health, being in college doesn’t magically make you invincible. Addressing the fact you may need to withdraw from school for any unforeseen reason is uncomfortable, but you know what’s even more concerning? The idea of losing thousands of dollars.

No one wants to think about ever needing to file a claim with a tuition insurance plan, but it can reimburse the cost of a completely withdrawn term in the event of a covered illness or injury.

7. My roommate has renters insurance, so I’m already covered.

Fiction: While you and your roommate might share snacks and a Netflix account, their policy usually covers their things, not yours. Getting your own policy allows you to customize protection that’s perfect for what you need. And if your entire residence is unintentionally damaged, the reimbursement costs can climb quickly. Separate policies will ensure all of your belongings are covered.

8. Epidemics including Covid-19 are a covered reason with tuition insurance.

Fact: GradGuard tuition insurance plans purchased on or after February 18, 2022, include an epidemic coverage endorsement, which can provide protection when an insured student completely withdraws from school for the covered term due to becoming ill with any epidemic or pandemic disease, including COVID-19.

With life comes a lot of responsibility. We are here to help guide and educate you on the risks of college life. Now you know the truth about college renters and tuition insurance!

Career Student Life Transition

The Reality of How to Find a Job After Graduation

April 28, 2022
College Student in Cap and Gown

Classes have finished, graduation is over, your stuff is all packed, and a little taste of reality has finally started to set in.

You’ve probably seen at least half a dozen articles about how to find a job after college. Those tips and tricks may help you get your foot in the door of what may be your dream job! After all, going to college to get that degree to eventually work in the field you worked toward is the goal, right?

Take it from a recent college grad: the job hunt can be tricky and overwhelming when first out of college. It’s not as easy as applying to as many jobs as possible. Read on for some tips on how to navigate the job hunting world in ways not a lot of people talk about.

Keep a supportive and encouraging inner circle.

Similar things tend to gravitate to one another, and it’s important to find comfort in those who are empathetic and understanding about what you are going through. Graduating without a role lined up is a challenge all on its own, let alone dealing with people who aren’t supportive.

Being unemployed isn’t easy, especially with a degree. It can feel hopeless and frustrating to watch your peers quickly start their careers while you are still getting yourself set up. It can feel like a swift kick in the gut when your inner circle of those you trust does not support you when you are feeling down. Be mindful of who you are speaking with when sharing your insecurities and fears.

It’s crucial to make sure your close friends lift you up, not down, supporting your aspirations and motivating you, not discourage you. You’ll need their positive energy if the search doesn’t go quite as you planned. Phases of self-doubt when looking for your first role out of college will come, and it may be hard to talk to some of my friends who just don’t understand what you are feeling – and that’s okay! Just let them know that you require some encouragement or look elsewhere for some.

Evaluate how you’re spending your free time.

It may be very tempting to want to put off finding a job at all after graduation. You finished classes and deserve a break! But time is valuable and many employers look to recent college grads to fill positions in May, June, or July. If you delay this, you may have to wait to find a job with winter grads.

Don’t turn into a lump on a log, wasting away watching hours of TikTok in your PJs. You are capable of so much more than you may realize- you have a degree, you have dreams, and you can start chasing them! Get strong both mentally and physically to get the best position for you.

It’s okay to take a short break to recoup after finishing your degree, but don’t let yourself develop bad habits. It can be tough on your mental and physical health if you let yourself wander too far off the beaten path of structure that college provides. But a self-care day is needed every once in a while.

Spend your time doing things you love and learning more about your passions; never stop learning and growing. Read, write, paint, or exercise to keep your body and mind active. You will feel better, be more alert, and more prepared to take on opportunities when they come to you.

Work toward your dreams, no matter how big they are.

Dreams and goals are not supposed to be easy or obtained overnight. It’s okay if they are a little scary or seem too far out of reach.

Sure, it may seem like the odds are against recent grads, but the good news is that you won’t be a recent grad forever. The journey will be tough with roadblocks you never saw coming, but in the end, it will all lead you where you are meant to go. If you clearly define the goals you have for yourself and believe in them, the struggle will all be worth it!

Dreams take time. Whether it’s getting an internship, starting out at the very bottom, or realizing a role you took was just not meant for you, you’ll get there. With one foot in front of the other, take steps towards your goals, starting at the beginning and working your way up. If your dream is to be a VP at a company, that job title won’t come right away, or even for several years. But know that even entering the company as

You are your biggest fan and fiercest advocate.

No one has your back like you do, so learn to be your biggest cheerleader. Even if you think it’s impossible, never stop believing in yourself because you can do far more than you think you can. Never stop working on getting better; in life, work, your hobbies, everything! We are our worst critics and letting doubt and fear of failure hold us back most of the time.

The only thing in the way of you going to the next level is you.  Be the person you dreamed you could be, and don’t stop until you get there. Even if it seems like it may be too hard, never stop fighting for yourself. You owe yourself that much after spending years of your life working and learning to earn that degree.

Life after college is a whole new ball game. With new things happening simultaneously, it can get overwhelming. It’s okay to take time to get your footing and make a plan as you start this new phase in life. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so understand that life is a process and everything will work out. You got this!

Student Life Transition

Finding the Good in New and Challenging Situations

April 26, 2022

We’ve all been told that life is a challenge. It can throw you curve balls that you would have never imagined possible, but somehow we all manage to pull through. Although, not always in one piece.

As you move from one phase of your life to the next, you may be experiencing a number of changes:

  • Moving cities or even states.
  • A new job (maybe even your first full-time gig).
  • A boatload of new responsibilities.
  • New friends (or loss of them).

Young adults are inevitably going to trip and fall… A LOT. It’s easy to get discouraged from what may feel like constant letdowns, but remember: It’s okay. Follow these steps for finding the silver lining even in the roughest situations.

When the Going Gets Tough, Be Positive

The energy you put out there is the energy you’ll get back. If you are consistently focusing on the negativity, it will always find you. There will always be something gloomy in life, work, and school, but it is vital to not dwell on those things for too long before trying to find the positive. If you didn’t get the result on a test, you thought you would look for the positive instead of sitting around and moping about it. If something can’t be made positive, try to neutralize it instead.

Failure Can be Good

Our lives are made up of a series of mistakes and the lessons we learn from them. We aren’t born knowing how to walk, talk, read or write. By trial and error, we develop these skills and eventually can’t remember a time we didn’t know how to do them. Unfortunately, the difficulties we face get harder and harder as we get older.

When we make a mistake, big or small, the easiest thing to do is to talk down to ourselves or dwell on all the little clues we missed leading up to this unfortunate event. But remind yourself that we are always learning and growing. Of course, we are going to make a mistake at some point in our lives or another! Whether it’s during the first week on the job, or the first time you have to manage your own finances, you will probably make a mistake. And maybe make many of them. We don’t walk into the world and suddenly have everything figured out. The most important part is learning from those mistakes and ensuring they don’t happen again.

Making an error and failing is an essential piece to mastery. Embrace it.

Be Kind to Yourself

When something negative affects us, it is crucial to accept ownership of what happened, but to also quickly move into a more optimistic headspace. At the same time, it can be comfortable to turn to self-doubt and blame when we do something wrong. We’re only human; we are bound to mess up, but the important thing to remember is that we are not an accumulation of our failures.

Research has shown that talking positively to ourselves, especially when we are at our lowest, is key to overcoming our fears and vital to our mental health.

Some benefits of positive self-talk are:

1. Reduced Stress

Individuals who think optimistically are also more prone to positive self-talk and use more dynamic coping methods when faced with stressful situations and challenges. Positive self-talk helps you challenge the way you look at stressful situations by helping you understand that you will meet them to the best of your ability and that no matter what happens – you did the best you could. Tackling these situations with an ‘I can do this‘ mindset rather than a negative ‘This is too hard‘ opens up new ways of thinking and problem-solving.

 2. Increased Confidence and Resilience

Most of us have experienced the little voice in the back of our heads telling us that we aren’t good enough, but tackling life with a positive self-talk policy can help to boost your self-confidence. Above anyone else, you should be your biggest fan! Frequent positive affirmations will help you feel more confident when facing your fears and achieving your dreams. You instill yourself with the belief that the things you want are achievable, and when situations do arise, you are prepared to handle them head-on. 

3. Stronger Relationships

We all know how it feels to be around someone so bright, full of confidence in themselves, and loves to spread genuine joy. They ooze enthusiasm that bleeds into everyone around them. Positive energy is contagious, so if you bring out the best in yourself, you will also bring out the best in others. 

With all of the challenges college students face, finishing college may not be on the top of the priority list. GradGuard is here to help you find some positivity in what may be some unfortunate circumstances. Insurance provides peace of mind before the unexpected happens, such as having to withdraw from school for a covered medical reason or discovering your laptop was stolen. Renters and tuition insurance plans allow students to get back up when life knocks them down.

Takeaways

You are your biggest champion. At the end of a hard day, week or month, we hope that you are able to find the good. Positivity is infectious, and know you can do anything you set your mind to, even the really hard stuff.

Adulting Student Life

A Student’s Guide to Insurance: Travel Edition

April 19, 2022

Being a student has its fair share of traveling. From breaks, vacations, traveling to and from campus, to even studying abroad. Whether you’re road-tripping to the west coast, studying abroad in Spain, or enjoying the beaches of Southeast Asia, knowing the ins and outs of student insurance can help make your trip a safe one!

There are a few different kinds of insurance you should consider when traveling during school, both in and out of the country: Auto, Health, Renters, and Travel.

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Student Life

What it Means to be a First-Gen College Student

April 14, 2022
First college graduate

The world is a very different place today than it used to be thanks to technological advancements. Many jobs in the workforce require skills that can only be acquired in higher education more than in the past. Because of this, the student population is more diverse than ever before, comprised of working-class families made up of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

37.5% of the U.S. population aged 25 and older had a college-level education in 2020, a significant increase from only 7.7% of Americans who had graduated from college in 1960.

What is a First-Generation College Student?

The vocabulary in higher education often feels overwhelming, especially if that world is not only new to you but also to your family. There are terms and nicknames for just about anything, like many things in life.

A first-generation college student, or a first-gen, is someone whose parents didn’t attend a four-year university or attempted some college but didn’t complete their degree.

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Health Student Life

How to Destress and Take Care of Your Mental Health During Finals Week

April 12, 2022
Learning how to destress during Finals Week

Maintaining good mental health during one of the most stressful times of the year for college students can be tricky, so it’s crucial to have many tips, tricks, and resources to turn to when things become too difficult to handle. 

First things first, avoid burnout and create a healthy routine. With enough time allocated to self-care, it’s important that you maintain good mental health. Stress from school can manifest in many different emotional and physical symptoms, so knowing how to cope with these will give you an edge up. Keep reading for six of the most important healthy ways to reduce stress during finals week, according to Active Minds.

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